ADVERSE HEALTH- SCHOOL CLOSURE
As you know there is a clear expectation that Bradford Academy will always remain open while it is safe/ or able to do so.
Over the period of the last three days we have been managing a steady decline in attendance across the Academy with staff and students suffering with illness, many presenting symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea. This situation is rapidly deteriorating and in order to safeguard the health and well-being of our community we cannot wait for this situation to reach critical levels before taking action. Amongst our most vulnerable youngsters we already have absence levels in excess of 30%, and if I were to send staff home who are either still recovering or presenting in the early stages of illness, it would double staff absence. We would normally manage this level of staff absence but in this circumstance this will make the situation worse.
We have sought advice about how best to manage this situation and it is clear that breaking into this spiralling level of illness will help to ensure that we avoid many staff, children and families suffering further. There is never an exact position to guide a decision of this magnitude and you will understand that we always do everything to remain open but with an infectious illness breaking the cycle of contact and removing the source of infection around the school are critical actions.
We are now in the unfortunate but necessary position of closing the Academy for two days on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th December. During this period of time we will be able to perform a “deep clean” of the building and its proximity to the weekend means we have a 96 hour break which will increase the benefit of a planned closure which is recommended as 48 hours. We cannot wait until then weekend because a further two days of contact will accelerate and worsen the position.
From Monday onwards we will operate a regime where staff and students in attendance must have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. We would ask that any children who present even moderate symptoms of illness also be kept at home for at least 48 hours. We have had increasing numbers of children presenting with sickness and diarrhoea who have had to be sent home. Obviously the benefits of a deep clean and a 96 hour break would be undermined if we have members of our community in school presenting symptoms and infecting others.
As you are aware we have our Sponsors Day service at Bradford Cathedral on Monday 15th December which will now be cancelled as we cannot run the risk of unpredictable staffing and student levels compromising our ability to manage this event. We will risk assess on Monday which planned activities can take place in school, but I would alert you that we may be in a situation of continuing partial closures in the early stages of next week. Regrettably I would advise you to explore childcare arrangements for the early part of next week if our strategy to reduce the levels of sickness still leave us with unsustainable staffing levels.
We hope that this will not be the case and the strategy is intended to avoid this. I’m sure you will appreciate that if we do not take this action we will certainly have significant levels of closure over the week towards the end of term.
Please check the website regularly for updates during the remainder of the term.
Monday will now be a normal school day with the exception of our Post-16 students who will continue with the external planned activities. Having to accept that we would have a closure would be difficult at any time, but is particularly disappointing as events which have taken significant levels of planning and extra commitment to prepare will have to be cancelled.
Gareth Dawkins MA